A proposed new irrigation scheme for WA’s Warren-Donnelly and Southern Blackwood regions will include new pipelines and pumping facilities with the aim of increasing horticultural production over the next 15 years.

The potential for the expanded irrigation scheme is being investigated as part of the Western Australian Government’s Water for Food Southern Forests project.

The Water for Food project is a four-year $40million Royalties for Regions funded program and a key component of the $300million Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture initiative.

WA Water and Acting Regional Development Minister, Mia Davies, said the scheme would consist of pipeline and pumping infrastructure, which would enable water to be bought and sold, facilitating the expansion of existing agriculture and horticulture.

Ms Davies said, “The project is being supported by Tasmanian Irrigation which has extensive experience in the industry, having successfully developed 18 irrigation schemes in Tasmania based on a similar model,”

“Made possible by a $3.6million investment from the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program, the Southern Forests water futures project is aimed at securing water supplies for irrigated agriculture growth around Manjimup and Pemberton to support long-term industry development.”

Ms Davies said that improving water availability and access across the region aims to dramatically increase the local horticultural production over the next 15 years, but the success of the scheme will depend on landowners and potential investors working together to grow the industry.

The project will proceed to the next stage if there is enough stakeholder interest. Farmers and investors are encouraged to submit letters of intent by mid-March 2016.

Ms Davies said the letters of intent process allows the government to map out the demand pattern, volumes and locations and enable them to plot the best pipeline routes and locations of pump stations.

“Consultation with stakeholders and the community is an important part ahead of this process, and a number of briefing sessions have already been held with more planned,” Ms Davies said.

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